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Walk Away Metabolic Syndrome

Daily Exercise Reverses Metabolic Syndrome


Updated January 08, 2008

Walking on Treadmill

Walking on Treadmill

Digital Vision / Getty Images
When it comes to exercise, it is confusing. There are thousands of opinions on what we should do and when we should do it. Should you exercise everyday? How about three times a week? For 20 minutes? 30 minutes? 60 minutes? Should you do yoga? cardio? strength? flexibility? Keep reading for some answers.

Walking Alone Reduces Metabolic Syndrome

A person has metabolic syndrome when they have three of more of five risk factors for heart disease and diabetes (including high blood pressure, low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and high blood sugar). Some say as many as 25% of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome. This study showed the effect of exercise on metabolic syndrome.

When a group of people exercised regularly (a daily brisk 30 minute walk, for example) over a period of 8 months, their level of metabolic syndrome dramatically lowered, without changes to diet. The study enrolled 171 overweight, middle-aged men and women and asked them to exercise regularly. At the beginning 41% had metabolic syndrome. After 8 months, only 27% did. All the people in the exercise group lost inches and pounds, while the control group gained weight over the study period.

Light, Moderate or Intense - Which is Best?

In terms of metabolic syndrome, moderate daily exercise seems to be the key. Those with the greatest decrease in metabolic syndrome signs walked, on average, 11 miles per week (30 minute a day). Those who did short bursts of very intense exercise did not show as much improvement. Those who did more than 11 miles (such as running 17 miles per week) showed greater improvement than the 11 mile walkers. But the authors conclude that the brisk, daily, 30 minute walk is the optimal amount for most people.

Get Started Walking

The key to any exercise program is scheduling your time. It will take about a month before walking every day really becomes a habit -- until then, you have to make sure you reserve the time to walk each day. Here are some tips to get you started:
  • Find a Good Time: Look at your calendar and find a good time of day that you can consistently walk. Maybe in the morning before work, during lunch or after dinner. Think of all the distractions that might come up and make your best choice.
  • Do Every Day, No Matter What: When first starting on a habit, it is important that you do it every day. Even if this means only walking for 10 minutes around your kitchen -- don't let one day go by without a walking session.
  • Find a Good Walking Program: Once you are ready, there are tons of walking resources and programs to inspire you. Start with reading Guide to Walking.
More on creating a Lasting Exercise Habit


Johnson JL, Slentz CA, Houmard JA, Samsa GP, Duscha BD, Aiken LB, McCartney JS, Tanner CJ, Kraus WE. Exercise Training Amount and Intensity Effects on Metabolic Syndrome (from Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention through Defined Exercise). Am J Cardiol. 2007 Dec 15;100(12):1759-66.

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